Keller Crafted is Mark Keller’s creation, or perhaps better described as his nearly two-decade long experiment in creating a more honorable and conscientious food system.
To know Mark is to know Keller Crafted. Our story is Mark’s story, which takes an abrupt pivot in 1996 on the small tropical island of St. Barts and winds into the high desert mountains of Northern California and finally into the fertile fields of the Bay Area food culture.
Below is a timeline that sheds some light on how we’ve come to be and why our product and vision for the food you eat and the world we are creating is like no other.
1992 – Mark is a surf bum, bouncing from city college to city college and finally landing at UCLA when a surfing buddy introduces Mark to modeling as a vehicle to get out and see the world.
1994 – Mark becomes a full-time fashion model, moves to New York City and Europe and quickly rises in the industry, working for prominent fashion brands like Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren
1996 – At a photoshoot on the island of St. Barts, a dishwasher working diligently at a fine dining restaurant catches Mark’s attention. Moved by this dishwasher’s honor and passion as he worked intensely to sweat out the ground work for a beautiful meal while Mark and others in the group lounged, Mark felt a hollowness to his life, “I vividly remember sitting there thinking that I’m not worthy of eating this food. I haven’t done anything to earn this meal.”
1996 – Ignoring all advice to the contrary, Mark gives up his highly lucrative modeling career in his prime to attend Cal Poly University San Luis Obispo and pursue his childhood dream of becoming an animal scientist focusing on the intersection of humane animal husbandry and land stewardship.
1998 – Mark graduates Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Animal Science and an emphasis in Holistic Resource Management, marries his long-time girlfriend and moves into a single-wide mobile home on the majestic Prather Ranch in Northern California, near the Oregon border.
1999 – Prather Ranch hires Mark as an operations Swiss Army Knife, managing the slaughterhouse, general ranch duties, farmer’s markets and driving trucks.
1999 – Mark works with the Prather Ranch team to gain certification as the first organic beef operation in California.
2001 – Five years after that moment in St. Barts, Mark leaves employment and sets out on his own creating the foundation of Keller Crafted; distributing fine quality meats from local farms to help make sustainable and heritage breed ranching more financially viable.
2006 – Mark starts his own Certified Humane heritage breed hog farm, raising old English blood line hogs, that were free to roam on pasture or laying in the shade of a hoop-house or shade tree.
By raising hogs and managing the complex process of getting ultra-high-quality USDA inspected pork from farm to the end consumer, Mark experiences first-hand the infrastructure and skill set needed to exist as a relevant meat purveyor in the burgeoning farm to table niche.
2008 – Mark focuses on processing meats and creating whole animal solutions, that he believes is the most significant bottle neck in creating a more conscientious and honorable food system. It was this deep dive into butchery and hand-crafted charcuterie like sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, bacon and jerky that created the foundation for the Keller Crafted product line we have today.
This focus also allowed Keller Crafted to provide processing services for many of the region’s best farmers dedicated to raising the purest, most nutritious and humanely raised animals; including grass fed lamb and beef, non-GMO pork, and pastured raised chicken and turkey.
Mark’s heritage breed hogs were moved from the Capay Valley to the Klingeman Family Farm in Washington state; a trusted hog farming family farming on a certified organic farm. Keller Crafted then partnered with Klingeman to develop a line of pork products that both companies market.
By owning and operating the processing, Keller can utilize the whole animal, which improves the economic viability of his farmer partners, and provides value to customers, while doing the right thing at every step, from farm to table.
2009 – Mark begins eating paleo himself and is inspired to develop and produce sugar free products.
2012 – Keller Crafted becomes the first Non-GMO Project Verified meat processor.
2013 – Mark works closely with one of its largest partners, Prather Ranch Meat Co., working as its interim CEO, connecting conscious omnivores with great tasting meat that aligns with their values. It was during this time that Prather Ranch Meat Co. started a Meat CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
2017 – After another deep dive into the art of handcrafted butchery and science of portion control, Mark launches fresh meat cuts of all species, taking the farm to table meat business to the next level of product consistency and overall quality.
2018 – Keller Crafted gets the opportunity to not only supply but operate the beloved Prather Ranch Meat Company Meat CSA business, continuing to connect conscious consumers with the highest quality farm direct meats available.